An Islamic State spokesman on Monday called on the group’s followers to violently retaliate against non-believers in response to the massacre of 50 people at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch last week.
“The scenes of the massacres in the two mosques should wake up those who were fooled, and should incite the supporters of the caliphate to avenge their religion,” Abu Hassan al-Muhajir said in a 44-minute audio recording, according to the New York Times.
Al-Muhajir, who uses a pseudonym and whose true identity remains unknown, went on to mock the Trump administration’s claim that ISIS has been totally defeated in Syria, saying that the administration had created a “state of confusion and contradiction that make it impossible for any observer to know what is meant by the word ‘victory.’”
As the Times‘ Rukimi Callimachi notes, Muhajir, whose whereabouts are unknown, has somehow been able to keep apprised of current events despite his being on the run in what is likely a desolate part of Syria. He knew, for example, that Trump visited Iraq in December and used the abbreviated visit to deride American efforts to stabilize the region.
“How strange for a victor who can’t even announce publicly an official visit to a country he claims to be bringing peace and stability to. He could only come like a frightened and cowardly thief,” he said.
Al-Muhajir also claimed during his video message that ISIS’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, previously rumored dead, is alive.
The Friday shootings in Christchurch have shaken New Zealand, which had never before experienced a mass shooting on a similar scale, and will likely usher in both new gun-control laws and new restrictions on social-media platforms, since the shooter, a 28-year-old Australian man, live-streamed part of his attack on Facebook.